What to do if you are the first person to discover an injured dog
If you were to ever be the first person to arrive on the scene after a dog has been injured, are you prepared with the necessary steps to take? The following advice will help you become educated as to handling an emergency situation with a dog who has been in an accident.
Assess the area
The first step in any emergency is to assess the situation and make sure that the environment is completely safe. For example, most dog injuries occur by vehicle and the animal must be moved to a safer location and out of the way of further potential injuries.
Once you have relocated to a safer area, your next move is to quickly scan the dog and attempt to get an idea of what injuries he has suffered from. You must learn to make quick mental notes and categorize the injuries from least severe the most severe. This is an important step and should always be carried out before any type of first aid is initiated.
During an emergency, as you approach your dog, you will immediately see some problems. However, most serious injuries are not easily noticed. These unseen injuries can be life-threatening if handled incorrectly. Luckily, you can evaluate the hurt dog with a simple procedure which consists of finding out the dog’s responsiveness, respiration, and pulse.
Call out your dog’s name or clap your hands loudly in his ear. If that does not work then try a light rub or tap to the dog’s skull. Hopefully, your dog should either bark or move towards you. If there is no response, immediately check his breathing, circulation, and airway. You may have to initiate cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
If your dog is fortunate enough to respond, you must now check its respiration rate. Normal respiration rates can be between 10 and 30 breaths per minute. However, your dog may be panting up to 200 or more breaths per minute due to the accident. On the other hand, if the dog was injured by poison or hypothermia, for example, then respiration rate may be decreased. It all depends on the accident and you must evaluate whether his respiration rate is too high, or too low, according to your assessment about his injuries.
Once you have checked for responsiveness and evaluated his respiration rate, the next step is to take your dog’s pulse. To feel his pulse you must place the tip of your fingers on the inside of the dog’s thigh or groin area. Do not press too hard or you may miss. Count for 15 seconds and then multiply by 4. This total will give you the beats per minute. The normal pulse rate for a dog is 60 – 120 beats per minute.